OGDEN -- Absentee ballots for the Nov. 6 general election, from Utahns in the military and overseas, are already trickling into Top of Utah clerks' offices.
The ballots were mailed Sept. 22 to those in the military and overseas, and some of them have already been returned to their respective county clerk's office, said Weber County Elections Director Jennifer Morrell.
Weber County has received six ballots, while Davis County has received 20 absentee ballots. The higher number of ballots in Davis County can be attributed to Hill Air Force Base, Morrell said.
Box Elder County to date has yet to receive a ballot from someone in the military or overseas. County officials are confident that before the election is over Box Elder will receive its fair share of ballots, because the county has 14 precincts that vote entirely by mail.
"Their voting results prove that voting by mail substantially increases voter turnout," said Box Elder County Clerk Marla Young.
County election officials are hopeful that someday one-third of all registered voters will cast their ballot by mail, while another third will use the early voting process. That would reduce the lines on Election Day.
"Gone are the days when you had to prove you were going to be out of town in order to vote with an absentee ballot," Morrell said.
By-mail voting serves registered voters who are temporarily out of state or country, are home-bound or have trouble getting to the polls because of work or long commutes, Morrell said.
"It also allows you to study the ballot at your leisure and avoid long lines on Election Day," she said.
Voters can request an absentee ballot by visiting www.vote.utah.gov. Forms are also available from the county clerk's office and upon completion can be mailed in, faxed, emailed or returned in person.
"I love replying back to each military and overseas voter that sends me a ballot via email, to let them know their ballot has been received and will be kept in a secure place until it is counted on Election Day," said Morrell, who knows firsthand the benefits of casting an absentee ballot. She spent four years in England with her husband, who served in the U.S. Air Force.
All other absentee ballots will be mailed beginning
Oct. 9, said Davis County Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings. After that, ballots will be mailed weekly, up to the week before the election.
The week before the election, by-mail ballots will be processed on a daily basis.
"Increased ability of voting by mail is just a part of the overall improvements to the election process," Rawlings said.
"Voting by mail is only one option of voting, but I want voters to realize it is easy, safe, convenient and secure," said Davis County Elections Director Pat Beckstead.
The last day to complete a vote-by-mail application is Nov. 2.
For more information, visit vote.utah.gov.